Miyajima Island Itsukushima Shrine

What to do on Miyajima – Overnight Stay and Day Trip Guide!

Just a ferry ride away from Hiroshima mainland is a small island known as Miyajima or Itsukushima. This peaceful piece of land is famous for its beautiful floating torii gate, nature spots (Mt. Misen and Momijidani Park), seafood, and deer. Visitors flock to Miyajima to get away from the city bustle and experience luxurious ryokan stays and scenic views.

Low tide Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
Low tide and Itsukushima Shrine

The area is easily accessible from central Hiroshima or Kyushu making it a great day trip destination or place for a weekend stay. For the most magical experience, I recommend booking a room and staying the night as the evening low tide with Itsukushima Shrine in the background is a sight that can’t be beaten.

For those traveling to Miyajima for the first time, here are some of the top things to do during your trip!

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Things to do on Miyajima Island

Visit Itsukushima Shrine (Day and Night)

Miyajima is famous for its floating torii gate and sprawling vermillion shrine that kisses the water’s edge. The tori gate stands about 16 meters tall and is one of the biggest wooden torii gates in Japan. Itsukushima Shrine is a designated World Heritage site and offers iconic Japanese views of water, mountains, and shrine. There are several locations that are good for viewing the shrine, so spend some time walking along the water and soaking up the view.

Travel in Japan - Miyajima

You can buy tickets to enter the shrine and see the floating tori gate straight on.

Most people visit Itsukushima Shrine during the daytime, but perhaps even more beautiful is the view at night once the water has receded. At this time, you can walk up to the torii gate as it is no longer surrounded by water. It’s rare to find a shrine like this in Japan so it’s my top reason for recommending travelers to stay the night!

Next to Itsukushima shrine on a hill is a five-storied pagoda that stretches 27 meters into the air. Unfortunately, it is just for viewing as it is closed to the public.

Hike up Mt. Misen

For energetic nature lovers, a hike up Mt. Misen is a must. There are several paths that lead to the top of the mountain, one located by Momijidani Park, another by Daishoin Temple, and the last further away on the island. (I recommend hikers take the path up by Daishoin Temple as it has a nicer elevation gain and views compared to the other trials.

Hiking path to Mt Misen, Miyajima

It takes about an hour to climb to the top – maybe more if you stop often to take in the views.

Mt Misen Hike, Miyajima Island

Close to the summit, you will be able to see important Buddhist structures including Misenhondo and Reikado which holds the Eternal Flame. At the top of the mountain, you will be rewarded with views of the water below and Hiroshima mainland sprawled out in front of you. The observatory at the top closes at 4 pm so place your hike accordingly.

Ropeway to Mt. Misen

If you want to get to the top without hiking, you can take the ropeway up most of the way. The ropeway entrance is located near Momijidani Park. Oneway fares are around ¥1,100 for adults and ¥550 for children. Read more information about taking the ropeway here.

Explore Daishoin Temple

Daishoin Temple is an important temple belonging to the Shingon Buddhism sect. It is located at the base of Mt. Misen and is home to over 500 buddha sculptures on the grounds. Climb the steps up this sacred temple and spin the cylinders that are inscribed with Buddhist scriptures.

Daishoin Temple, Miyajima

Ring the massive bell and view the Henjokutsu Cave where hanging lanterns shine an eerie light on hundreds of small statues.

Henjokutsu Cave at Daishoin Temple, Miyajima

Daishoin Temple is a beautiful temple that is intertwined with the nature around it and has many small spaces to discover.

Stone buddha sculpture at Daishoin Temple, Miyajima

After wandering around the precincts, you take the nearby trail leading up to the top of Mt. Misen for a wonderful view of the area around Miyajima.

Eat Fresh Oysters on Omotesando Street

If you’ve come all the way to Miyajima Island, you will want to try some of the island fare. Prices are a bit on the expensive side – it is a popular vacation/tourist destination even for Japanese people – but make sure you still try an oyster or two.

Omotesando Street, Miyajima Island

Yakigaki no Hiyashi – 焼がきのはやし 

Restaurants on Miyajima serve oysters in a variety of ways: fried, boiled, over rice, raw. etc. On the main street, Omotesando Shopping Street, you will find an island favorite, Yakigaki no Hiyashi, ( 焼がきのはやし).

This restaurant is known for its high-quality grilled oysters which are grown until they are at least three years old.

As a specialty seafood restaurant located in the heart of a tourist destination, prices here are unsurprisingly high. However, the exciting thing is that the lunch sets allow you to enjoy oysters prepared in various ways, all in one meal.

yakigaki no hiyashi lunch set

For example, one of the sets comes with two raw oysters, two grilled oysters, three fried oysters, oyster rice, miso soup, and pickled veggies for ¥3,000 (~$27). It wasn’t the most filling of meals (I guess I’m used to eating lots of oysters), but I found everything to still be delightfully tasty. Read more about Yakigaki no Hiyashi.

Kaki Fuku Maru (かきふくまる)

For a no-fuss oyster meal, head over to Kaki Fuku Maru. This little oyster shop is small and can only seat about six customers at a time. Since you have to order a drink to sit, most customers just stand outside and eat. Kaki Fuku Maru’s specialty is grilled oysters with a variety of toppings. Butter garlic is one of my favorites, but I also enjoy the spicy oil, and miso flavors.

garlic butter oyster at kaki fuku maru

Compared to the oyster huts in Itoshima where you can get ~12 oysters for ¥1,000, the prices on Miyajima are unfortunately much, much higher. Nevertheless, if you are on the island, I still recommend grabbing an oyster or two and enjoying their salty freshness.

Oysters aren’t really your thing? Check out this guide for other foods to eat on Miyajima!

Taste Fried Momiji Manju

Momiji Manju is Miyajima’s famous confectionery that is shaped like a maple leaf (which is called momiji in Japanese). This cake-like dessert is traditionally made with a red bean paste filling, but many stores sell an assortment of other fillings like custard, apple, chocolate, and chestnut.

hakataya fried momiji manju

Hakataya on Omotesando Shopping Street takes the traditional Momiji Manju one step further by serving it deep-fried! They call this version Miyajima Jakee.

The added crunchy exterior and steaming filling make for a snack that is better than the original in my opinion. Warning: Be VERY careful when eating as the insides come piping hot.

Stroll in Momijidani Park

If you are looking for a great place to see fall foliage in Japan, look no further than Momijidani Park on Miyajima Island. Around November, the park sparks to life with trees blanketed in vibrant hues of yellow, orange, and red. Even if you plan your visit outside of Momiji season, Momijidani Park is still a nice place to take a stroll in. If you are headed to Mt. Misen, the cable car entrance and one of the hiking paths are both located near the park.

Fall leaves and red Japanese Bridge, Momijidani Park, Japanese fall foliage

Sip on Miyajima Craft Beer

Finding yourself craving a cool drink while walking around? Not to worry, Miyajima Brewery has you covered. This brewery specializes in craft beer.

miyajima brewery craft beer flight

The first floor has a small space for standing and drinking, while the 3rd floor has a great view and offers more of a restaurant vibe.

Small, regular, and large drink sizes are available, but for those who are indecisive, (or just excited to try more than one beer), you can enjoy a flight of any three pours.

Eat in a Hideaway Restaurant

On my latest trip, I found a lovely restaurant hidden away from the busyness of the main street. Niwa Cafe Miyama is tucked so far back that before I found the entrance, I was sure I was in the wrong location.

Niwa Cafe Miyama Dinner Menu, Miyajima

Few restaurants are open late on Miyajima so I was especially happy to have found such a nice place. The portions are a bit small, but the food I had: sashimi, fried squid legs, okonomiyaki, chicken wings, Miyajima sake, and beer were delicious.

Niwa Cafe Miyama Sashimi, Miyajima
Niwa Cafe Miyama Okonomiyaki, Miyajima

Relax in a Luxurious Ryokan

For the ultimate luxury experience, you will want to stay at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) which comes with beautiful Japanese rooms, full-course meals, and attached bathing facilities. I stayed at the Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto the first time I visited the island and was not disappointed in the least. Staying at a ryokan is unlike staying at a normal western hotel and is something you should definitely experience once while traveling in Japan.

There are other more affordable options on Miyajima if you are looking for a simpler place to stay. I have stayed at Sakuraya multiple times and while it’s not fancy, it is located super conveniently by the water near the ferry port. It has Japanese-style rooms and a small public bath you can enjoy during your stay. (Meals are not provided at Sakuraya).

Japanese style room at Sakuraya, Miyajima
Simple Japanese-style room at Sakuraya

Visiting Miyajima Island

Hopefully, the above list has given you some ideas for how to plan your next trip to Miyajima. Enjoy the fantastic scenery the area has to offer and remember to keep your food away from the deer!

Deer on Miyajima Island

For more about Miyajima Island, check out these posts!

Nearby Miyajima Island

Wondering what to do after your trip to Miyajima Island? If you’re on your way to Hiroshima, be sure to visit Hiroshima Peace Park, Hiroshima castle, and feast on the region’s famous okonomiyaki. From Miyajima island, you can take a special ferry that drops you off right at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

Hiroshima Castle, lens ball

If you want to explore an entirely different region of Japan, then hop on a Shinkansen and continue south to Kyushu. In Kyushu, you can find cozy onsen towns, places with beautiful beaches and bike routes, and delicious food galore. Check out more Kyushu adventures below!

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